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Foods That Rev Up Your Metabolism

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Drop those extra pounds for good—and get an energy boost to boot!

Forget about calories! Most people who are trying to lose weight worry too much about calories and not enough about the actual cause of those extra pounds.

The real culprit: Out-of-balance hormones.

Best approach for controlling weight: A diet that rebalances the body’s hormones. Carefully chosen foods and food combinations rebalance levels and/or efficiency of metabolism-regulating hormones, such as ghrelin, leptin and thyroid hormone. You’ll burn more calories, and your body will be less likely to store calories as fat. Here’s how…

TWEAKING THE BEST DIETS

Hands down, the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets out there. With its emphasis on plant-based foods (such as vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts) and healthful fats (from fatty fish and olive oil), it is good for your heart and helps control blood sugar levels.

But for more efficient weight loss, you need to go a step further. That’s where the Protein-Rich Oriental Diet, developed by Korean researchers, enters the picture. With its heavy focus on high-protein foods, this diet has been found to provide twice the weight loss offered by calorie restriction alone.

To achieve and maintain an optimal body weight: The diet I designed includes elements of both these diets—as well as some important additional tweaks such as timing your meals and consuming a mix of proteins in order to get the full complement of amino acids, which is essential for increasing metabolism and controlling hunger. On my diet, you will eat a combination of at least two proteins, good fats and vegetables at each meal. For example…

• Fish, turkey and chicken contain all of the essential amino acids that are in red meat but with fewer calories and less saturated fat. They’re particularly rich in arginine, an amino acid that increases the speed at which your body burns calories. My advice: Aim for six to eight ounces of these foods as the primary protein for dinner. You also can include these foods at breakfast and lunch as one of your protein choices.

• Reduced-fat cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt and goat cheese. Certain forms of dairy are high in branched-chain amino acids, which suppress appetite and increase the ability of mitochondria (the energy-producing components of cells) to burn fat. My advice: Each day, eat about a half-cup of low-fat or nonfat dairy as a protein. But if you have a sensitivity to dairy that’s related to the immune system reactivity, then I recommend that you to avoid these protein sources.

• High-protein beans, lentils and grains, such as black beans, kidney beans, quinoa and brown rice. Eat one of these protein sources (three-fourths cup to one cup) at lunch—usually combined with a small serving of fish or lean meat. In addition to packing plenty of protein and fiber, these foods provide large amounts of amino acids that will help you get fitter and have more energy.

• Egg whites contain all of the amino acids that you need for efficient weight loss, and they are my favorite choice as a protein for breakfast. An egg-white omelet with onions, mushrooms and other vegetables can be prepared in just a few minutes. Limit your intake of egg yolks due to their cholesterol.

LOW-GLYCEMIC CARBS

Carbohydrates that are digested quickly—mainly refined and processed foods such as juices, white rice and french fries—increase insulin and fat storage. Carbohydrates with a lower glycemic score are absorbed more slowly and don’t cause unhealthy changes in insulin or fat storage. Good choices: Whole oats, chickpeas and fruit (see below) at breakfast and lunch, and vegetables at each meal.

MORE FIBER

The fiber in such foods as beans and vegetables reduces appetite and slows digestion, important for preventing insulin “spikes.” Research shows that people of normal weight tend to eat significantly more fiber than those who are overweight or obese. For efficient weight loss: Get 35 g of fiber daily.

Fruit is also a good source of fiber. Just be sure that you choose fresh fruit that’s low in natural sugar (fructose). Good choices: Raspberries, strawberries, papayas, apples and cranberries. Avoid fruit at dinner to make it the lowest glycemic meal.

Food Sensitivities

You also need to take into account in your food choices the possibility of a food sensitivity, a situation in which your immune system can react to certain food that you eat. This, in turn, can promote more inflammation in your body, which will cause you to have weight-loss resistance. Food sensitivities can occur in anybody but more so in people affected by an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. For optimal weight loss on my diet, it is important to avoid the foods that your immune system is likely to react to. Common food sensitivities are: Sensitivity to gluten and dairy.

FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish increase the rate at which calories are burned. However, even if you eat fish every day, it doesn’t contain enough omega-3s for long-term weight control.

Solution: Take a daily supplement with 600 mg of EPA and 400 mg of DHA—the main types of omega-3s. Check first with your doctor if you take blood thinners or diabetes medication, since fish oil may interact with these drugs.

NOT JUST FOR WEIGHT LOSS

A hormone-balancing eating plan can rev up your metabolism even if you don’t need to lose weight, giving you more energy and mental focus. If you aren’t overweight and you follow this eating plan, you may lose a pound or two, but mostly you’ll just feel better.

TIMING MATTERS!

When you eat is almost as important as what you eat…

• Plan on eating four or five daily meals—breakfast between 6 am and 8 am…an optional (and light) late-morning snack…lunch between 11 am and 12:30 pm…a mid-afternoon snack…and supper between 5 pm and 7 pm.

• Plan your meals so that you get more protein at supper. It will stimulate the release of growth hormone, which burns fat while you sleep.

• Avoid all food three hours before bedtime. Eating late in the evening causes increases in blood sugar and insulin that can lead to weight gain—even if you consume a lower-calorie diet (1,200 to 1,500 calories a day).

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Source: Ridha Arem, MD, an endocrinologist, director of the Texas Thyroid Institute and clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston. He is a former chief of endocrinology and metabolism at Houston’s Ben Taub General Hospital and is the author of The Thyroid Solution Diet (Atria). AremWellness.com Updated Date: August 21, 2018 Publication: Bottom Line Health
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